Payless lays off more than 100 Topeka employees

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The footwear retailer, Payless, has announced a sizeable number of layoffs to its employees in Topeka and worldwide.

These layoffs affected 165 Payless employees total and 110 of them worked in Topeka.

"Payless shoe stores regularly reviews our organizational structure just to ensure we maintain the business and are encompassing our associates, our customers, our business, and our community," said Spreer.

Meghan Spreer, Corporate Communication Senior Analyst for Payless, told 13 NEWS these eliminated jobs represent about two percent of their total associate base. She went on to say because the company made the decision to hold positions open last year, they were able to lesson the impact to associates.

After we first shared this report Thursday, a Payless employee who wished to remain anonymous and was not affected by the cuts contacted 13 NEWS, stating they believed the number of layoffs was much higher. Spreer stood by the numbers, saying 165 total announced Thursday, affecting 110 in Topeka, is accurate.

The anonymous employee went on to say consultants and security guards were brought in Thursday morning to escort people from the building, with no advance notice from management.

Spreer was not able to comment when the layoffs began, but viewers told 13 NEWS they started around 9:00 a.m. Thursday.

"Today has been a difficult one for the Payless team, but we believe these are the right decisions to ensure that the business continues successfully down the path that we're going," said Spreer.

Spreer said each laid off employee received "a fair severance package, which provides a financial bridge and benefits, including professionally managed outplacement services who have extensive resources to aid associates in their transition to new employment."

Matt Pivarnik, President and CEO of The Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce, sent out a statement in response to the news. He says the chamber is ready to assist those who lost their jobs, and added, "Topeka's economy remains strong and we are encouraged by the fact that many Topeka businesses are currently looking for qualified candidates."

She did not say which department or departments these employees worked in, but the anonymous employee said many were lost in the IT department.

13 NEWS also learned major cuts are being made to Payless in Australia. Business Insider reports up to 730 employees were recently laid off and 132 stores will either be transferred or closed this month.

Around 25,000 people work for Payless - 800 of them work at the Topeka World Headquarters.